Breiner, Kokinda spark Lansford
Brody Breiner hasn’t pitched much for Lansford this season.
Drew Kokinda, meanwhile, is a complete stranger to the shortstop position.
Despite their inexperience, the two made major contributions on Thursday night to lift Lansford to a 9-6 victory over Pottsville Black in the quarterfinal round of the Schuylkill Teener Junior Division playoffs.
The victory lifts Tim Goida’s club into the semifinals, where they’ll face Hegins tonight.
“(Brody) came in and pounded the zone, and that’s all we needed,” said Goida, who brought Breiner into the game in the fifth inning after Pottsville had gained a 5-4 advantage. “Even when they were swinging, they were late on it or early. They just couldn’t barrel anything up there on him.
“He hadn’t thrown much; he had a little bit of arm issues earlier in the year. But he was at the doctor and was checked out. He was cleared and was ready to go, and he did the job for us tonight.”
Breiner got the last out of the fifth inning on one pitch. After Lansford plated two runs in the home fifth to regain its lead, the reliever struck out the side in the sixth.
The home team pushed across three more runs in the sixth, thanks to an RBI double by Chase Weaver and a two-run single by Kokinda, to up the margin to 9-5.
But Pottsville wouldn’t go away quietly.
A single, an error and a seeing-eye base hit in the seventh pulled the visitors to within three and brought the tying run to the plate with no outs.
That’s when Kokinda came up with the defensive play of the game.
Kole Becker hit a line drive that Kokinda snared. Kokinda then flipped the ball to Connor Penberth to double off the runner at second. A few pitches later, Breiner induced a grounder to second for the final out of the game.
“That’s the first time this year Drew was at shortstop,” said Goida. “He’s normally a second baseman. But with moving pitchers around, we had to do some different things. He’s a gamer, though. You could probably put catcher’s equipment on him and he’ll figure it out pretty quick.
“It (the double play) relieved so much pressure because they got the first runner on, and were like ok, we have a four-run lead. They get the second one on and with no one out, you start thinking about things. And then the tying run eventually comes to the plate with no one out. Turning that double play was huge.”
Mistakes proved to be a huge part of Pottsville’s demise, as six errors led to four of Lansford’s runs.
“They have a few good hitters, and they hurt us tonight,” said Pottsville mentor Eli Doyle. “We had an opportunity to shut down some innings, but errors really hurt us. On top of that we also left (10) runners on base (including eight in scoring position).”
Lansford opened the scoring with three runs in the first. Hayden Goida, one of the hitters Doyle was taking about, delivered an RBI double in the frame.
But some wildness by Lansford pitching (nine walks through the first five innings) helped keep Pottsville in the game. Two bases-loaded walks forced in runs in the second inning, while a free pass to start the fifth helped start a rally that gave the visitors the lead.
Breiner, however, came in and restored some order, which sparked the offense. Goida singled, stole second, and eventually scored on a grounder by Matt Engler that tied the score at 5-5. An error on Breiner’s grounder allowed the go-ahead run to score.
Lansford never trailed again, setting up its semifinal matchup with Hegins.
“We played Hegins already this year, and beat them,” said Goida. “It’ll be a good game. It’ll probably go back and forth ... I just hope we come ready to hit like we did the first time (we played them).”
STRIKE THROWER ... Breiner threw 25 pitches in the game, 20 of them for strikes.
HITTERS ... Weaver and Goida both finished with a single and a double and two runs scored. Kokinda, Brennan Kunkel and Brady Jones had the other Lansford hits.
TOUGH ERRORS ... Pottsville did make six errors, but Coach Goida explained what the cause might have been. “A lot of teams come here and they don’t realize the bounce that’s on this field,” he said. “It’s so dried out, and it just takes crazy hops. I know they struggled a bit on defense making some plays, but our hitting balls hard helped, too.”
Pottsville Black 021 020 1 - 6 7 6
Lansford 301 023 x - 9 7 1
Ferhat, Becker (6) and Deatrick; Jones, Black (3), Breiner (5) and Goida. W - Breiner. L - Ferhat.